Walking through one of France’s most well-preserved medieval towns
Not to be confused with Provence located in the South of France, the medieval town of Provins became a UNESCO Heritage site in 2001. Many travel blogs and websites highly recommend Provins as a day trip from Paris.
Provins can be easily reached from Paris via Transilien P at Gare de L’Est using your Navigo pass or purchasing tickets at the metro kiosk.
Like Paris, the best way to see Provins is by walking.
Place du Châtel
The main historical sites in Provins are located around Place du Châtel. After walking uphill from the train station, you will see the top of the Caesar Tower and the dome of the Saint-Quiriace Collegiate church. There are some cute crêperies and cafés around the square to have goûter or a quick drink.
The Holy Ghost Cellar, Le Jouy Gate, and the Ramparts
Walk straight from Place du Châtel and you will find the Jouy Gate and the ramparts that protected the town during the Middle Ages. You can climb up the stone steps and walk along the ramparts to see the view of the surrounding countryside. Another option is to follow the ramparts walk alongAllée des Lépreux andAllée des Ramparts towards the tourist office to see the Saint-Jean gate.
The Holy Ghost Cellar is located on the right of the road near the Jouy Gate. It no longer serves its original purpose as a hospital to accommodate the poor and pilgrims, but instead as a town event space.
Although this Catholic church began construction in the 12th century, it remains unfinished because there were insufficient funds to complete the project under the reign of Philippe le Bel. The dome was added in the 17th century.
Learn more about the history of Provins and its people at the local museum, which happens to be situated in one of the oldest buildings in the town. The museum has objects found in Provins and the surrounding area dating from the Neolithic Age (10,200 BC) to the 19th century. Tickets are 4 € for adults, 2€ for a reduced rate.
The Caesar Tower sits atop the highest point of Provins—it only seems fit that it boasts the best views of the town. It was built to symbolize the Count of Champagne’s power under the reign of Henry the Liberal. Tickets to climb up the tower are 4€30 for adults and 2€80 for children.
There was a dark blue wool cloth that was a well-known export from Provins—the color came from the powerful Durtient River that flowed through the town. The Durtient powered several industries in the town, including the dyer, tanner, and butcher. The Voulzie River is primarily recognized for fishing.
Provins City Center
More restaurants and more modern shops are located in the lower part of the town. The buildings still reflect the medieval spirit as much as the attractions by Place du Châtel.
It’s better to pick up souvenirs in the city center because there is more to choose from for wines and cheeses—as if it wasn’t enough to have historical ties to Champagne, Provins is the origin of Brie de Meaux. Also, it will be easier to carry to the train station upon returning to Paris.